“The Feast of Lots”
Purim celebrates the deliverance of the Jewish people during the days of King Xerxes of Persia. According to the story a young Jewish girl saves her people from annihilation and the malice of Haman. The story is contained in the Book of Esther, which is read in its entirety on Purim. When the Haman’s name is read aloud everyone hisses, boos, and twirls their graggers to drown out the name. Interestingly enough, the story of Esther is the only book in the Bible that makes no reference to God (Christian or Persian) or a religious observes of any kind.
Purim occurs on the 14 day of Adar and on the 15th in the cities of Jerusalem. Adar is the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar. As with all Jewish holidays, Purim begins at sundown.
Customs of Purim
Traditionally, the story of Esther is recited in the synagogue from a scroll. The scroll is called a Megillah in Hebrew. When the name of the villain, Haman, is spoken everyone hisses and makes noise.
This is a traditional noisemaker. It is a hand-held device that makes a loud crackling sound when twirled about. It is used to drown out the name of Haman.
Purim is a festive time and children dress in costumes and so do some adults. Popular costumes include the characters in the Book of Esther as well as non-Jewish personalities. This is to hide from the evil of Haman by disguising themselves as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the pope–all things that are not Jewish.
It is popular to act out plays, reenacting the Book of Esther.
Of course, a grand spread of delicious food is served, but the emphasis is on sweets. The meals themselves are typically vegetables and dairy because when Queen Easter lived in the palace she ate a vegetarian diet as to not violate the dietary laws.
The ever-popular, traditional Purim treat is the Hamantashen or Hammentashen. It is a three-cornered cookie stuffed with a poppy seed and honey filling or some other equally delightfully filling. These cookies are also referred to as “Haman’s Pocket”, “Haman’s Ears” and “Haman’s Hats”.
This is the custom of gift giving. Purim gifts are plates of sweet treats and other tasty morsels.
Food and clothing are given to the poor and needy.
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